Recent surges in coronavirus cases have made it clear that it may be quite some time before our world returns to normal. This pandemic has particularly impacted seniors and senior living communities, as seniors are facing unprecedented social isolation. Across the country, however, many seniors are getting to know a new friend—Alexa. With more than 3 billion virtual assistants already deployed around the globe, it’s clear that voice-controlled technology is going to continue to play an ever-increasing role in how we interact with each other and our world. Unlike some of the technological revolutions before it, the “Voice Revolution” is finding a special adoption among the older generation. Voice technology, especially when used in conjunction with engagement platforms like Wellzesta, has been shown to enrich seniors’ lives, alleviate workload from community staff, and increase occupancy rates.
Increasing Social Engagement
Loneliness and social isolation are pervasive issues among older adults and are more concerning than ever. This isolation is not only a social concern, but also has dramatic impacts on physical health. Older adults who identify as lonely have a 59% greater risk of functional decline and a 45% increased risk of death as compared to their more socially connected peers, according to UCSF researchers. As a result, Medicare is estimated to spend $1,608 more per year on each older adult experiencing social isolation. However, powerful engagement solutions like Wellzesta, combined with VoCo’s intuitive, voice-controlled interface, have been shown to meaningfully improve seniors’ connectedness. Managed Alexa solutions, like VoCo, have reduced depression rates among seniors living in senior living communities by over 40% by providing companionship and an easy way for seniors to access their community’s engaging activities.
Streamlining Community Operations
Additional precautions and guidelines have stretched many communities’ already lean staff even thinner. With this new reality, communities are looking to leverage technology to assist their dedicated teams. In response, VoCo has built a platform that’s easy to use for residents and automates many of a facility’s most repetitive or time consuming tasks. From RSVPs, to work orders, to community-wide announcements and more, VoCo’s platform is designed to reduce staff burnout and turnover and to streamline operations to create a more cohesive environment for seniors and staff.
Maintaining Physical Health and Safety
Peace of mind is why many families decide that senior living communities are best for their loved ones. Attentive, compassionate staff members provide support around the clock—visiting residents, reminding them to take their medicine, and providing exercise options and classes to promote physical wellbeing. As caring staff members are limiting visits to rooms as a precautionary measure, Alexa can ensure residents have support when they need it.
Alexa alerts on-site nursing staff of residents’ needs. All a resident has to do is say, “Alexa, call the nurses’ station,” or “Alexa, call help” and the resident is immediately connected to the appropriate, on-site caretaker.
Alexa also ensures that seniors remember to take their medication, with automated reminders each day. To set these up, a resident can say, “Alexa, remind me to take [name of medicine] every day at 9am.”
Alexa is a great workout partner, and provides seniors the benefits of exercise. Apps like Daily Stretch, My Chair Exercise, and our proprietary, Serenity Yoga, can be used to stay active during this time.
Increasing Occupancy Rates
With concerns around exposure, most communities are limiting in-person tours and move-ins have slowed. Now, it is important for even top organizations to find cost-effective ways to differentiate themselves. Elevating your community with VoCo can do just that.
In 2018, VoCo was brought into a beautiful, luxury community in Houston, TX for exactly this reason, and the program excelled! For the six months prior to VoCo, the community’s occupancy was stagnate well below the company’s benchmark. In just four months after VoCo’s installation, occupancy more than doubled, earning a McKnight’s Excellence in Technology award. When asked, the community’s staff reported that every single prospective resident or family that toured was impressed by the Alexa in the model unit!
The VoCo team even trains the community’s sales staff on how to engage prospective residents and families with Alexa, so they can immediately understand the immense value this platform will be able to bring to the resident.
Partnerships: Better Together
It's critical for communities to recognize that technology like this is not the future— it's today. Across the country, communities see the impact this technology has on their seniors and their community, and VoCo’s contactless implementation process makes getting started easier and safer than ever before. This is why Senior Housing News said, “The worst mistake a senior living operator can make with smart technology is believing that it is merely a part of senior living. Smart tech is not a part of senior living. It is not an add-on, a feature or an amenity. Instead, smart tech has the potential to become the foundation for every aspect of senior living’s value proposition and mission...This isn’t something that providers must consider at ‘some point in the future,’ or even ‘in the next decade.’ They must consider it now.”